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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Friedrich Hildebrand   21 June 1864


June 21st 1864.

Dear and respected Sir,

I felt very much obliged to Mrs Darwin for her kindness to answer my letter instead of you, being not quite well at that time;1 I hope that your health is quite restored now, and I suppose that you are expecting me to send you the specimens of Orchis pyramidalis, as the time for Orchids has come back again.2 T[h]ough this is a very bad year for Orchids I found the mentioned species yesterday in the Seven Mountains3 and gladly sent you some specimens of it. I am sorry that I had not gone before to fetch them, because they are as yet very far advanced, but I hope you will find some of them being of use to you.4

You will have heard that our old friend Professor Treviranus died last month at the age of 85, followed by his wife after a fortnight.5 You used to send to Professor T. the papers you had published on botanical subjects, and he gave an account of them in the Botanische Zeitung,6 perhaps you will favour me with the same kindness for the same purpose.7

Your work on Orchids has induced me, as I told you as yet before, to researches in the same direction,8 now I have been looking for the agency of Insects in other plants, and I have come to some interesting results, especially in the Genus Salvia, but I have not come as yet to an end with my researches and hope to tell you more about them after some months.9

Perhaps you did not know that Pulmonaria officinalis has dimorphic flowers, exactly like some species of Primula; I have been experimentising on that plant this spring and have made out that it resembles the dimorphic species of Linum:10 I got only seeds when crossing the long styled form with the short styled, and the short styled with the long styled; there was no influence whatever of the pollen brought on the stigma of the same or another own form-flower.11

Once more I wish, that this letter may find you in good health and I remain | dear Sir | yours | very respectfully | Friedrich Hildebrand

CD annotations

2.1 died … 85,] double scored pencil
2.3 the papers … subjects,] double scored pencil
3.3 Salvia] double scored and underl, pencil
4.3 I got … flower. 4.6] double scored pencil


For his description of Orchis pyramidalis in Orchids, CD had used specimens from Kent and Devon (see Orchids, pp. 41, 47). The accuracy of CD’s diagram of O. pyramidalis (Orchids, p. 22) had been questioned by Hildebrand’s colleague at the University of Bonn, Ludolph Christian Treviranus (Treviranus 1863c, p. 243). In her letter to Hildebrand of 20 November [1863] (Correspondence vol. 11), Emma Darwin requested a fresh specimen of O. pyramidalis, and conveyed CD’s conviction that the specimens he had examined for Orchids must differ in stigmatic structure from those that had been observed by Treviranus in Bonn.
Hildebrand refers to the Siebengebirge, a small mountain-range south-east of Bonn, Germany.
Hildebrand had been a student of Treviranus at the University of Bonn (Correns 1916, p. 29). Treviranus died on 6 May 1864. His widow, Auguste, died on 23 May 1864 (Treviranus 1866; Stadtarchiv Bonn).
Treviranus had reviewed a number of CD’s botanical papers, including his letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, [before 13 November 1858] (Correspondence vol. 7), ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, Orchids, and ‘Two forms in species of Linum (Treviranus 1863a, 1863b, 1863c). Annotated copies of these reviews are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. An English translation of Treviranus 1863c is in DAR 70: 38–52. Treviranus had also written the first discussion of Origin to appear in a German botanical journal (Treviranus 1861). Treviranus’s name was not on the presentation list for Origin, ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, or Orchids; it was on the presentation list for ‘Two forms in species of Linum (see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix IV). On Treviranus’s reviews of CD, see Junker 1989, pp. 143–4.
Hildebrand’s name was on the presentation list for ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria (see Correspondence vol. 12, Appendix III). He reviewed the paper in the 10 February 1865 issue of Botanische Zeitung, pp. 50–2. See also letter to Friedrich Hildebrand, 22 July [1866], Calendar no. 5163f.
Hildebrand had sent CD an abstract in English of his paper on the pollination of orchids (Hildebrand 1863a; see also Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Friedrich Hildebrand, 16 July 1863). CD had arranged for the abstract to be published in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Hildebrand 1863b; see also Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Friedrich Hildebrand, 28 July [1863], and letter from Friedrich Hildebrand, 10 November 1863).
For the results of Hildebrand’s research on Salvia, see Hildebrand 1866. A heavily annotated copy of the paper is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
CD’s observations on Pulmonaria officinalis, and those of his niece, Lucy Caroline Wedgwood, indicated that the plant was self-fertile (see letter from L. C. Wedgwood, [6 June 1864] and n. 5, and letter to Friedrich Hildebrand, 25 June [1864] and n. 7).


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

Correns, C. 1916. Friedrich Hildebrand. Berichte der deutschen botanischen Gesellschaft 34 (pt 2): 28–49.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

Junker, Thomas. 1989. Darwinismus und Botanik. Rezeption, Kritik und theoretische Alternativen im Deutschland des 19. Jahrhunderts. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]

Treviranus, Ludolph Christian. 1861. [Review of J. D. Hooker’s Flora Tasmaniæ.] Botanische Zeitung 19: 133–5, 142–4.

Treviranus, Ludolph Christian. 1866. Lebens-Abriss. Botanische Zeitung 24: 1–5.

‘Two forms in species of Linum’: On the existence of two forms, and on their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 February 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 69–83. [Collected papers 2: 93–105.]


Studying insect pollination in Salvia

and heterostyly in Pulmonaria officinalis which is similar to Linum case.

Letter details

Letter no.
Friedrich Hermann Gustav (Friedrich) Hildebrand
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 202
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4542,” accessed on 28 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12